Reply to Orlando Patterson ‘Infidelity during marriage’

Dear Mr. Patterson,

  I hope that I have misunderstood you and that you are confusing marital infidelity with consensual non-monogamy.

  In your letter, you appear to plead that infidelity in marriage is acceptable, natural behavior and should be forgiven out of hand. I find this concept to be totally repugnant. Whether infidelity in marriage is purely to do with undisclosed sexual adventures or something as mundane as who drank the last soda in the refrigerator, it should be viewed as unacceptable.

  Infidelity is basically dishonesty or lying about one’s actions. This type of behavior shouldn’t be tolerated in society or business and certainly not in marriage, where you have sworn to be one with your partner. When there are lapses in honesty, whatever the cause, they should be addressed, the erring party should make amends and ensure that they do not make the same mistake again.

  If dishonesty becomes a habit, then this could amount to abusive behavior and the marriage may well be doomed as there was clearly misrepresentation in the early stages of the relationship.

  If, on the other hand, you are referring to consensual non-monogamy, that is a different matter altogether. When there is open dialogue and both partners agree that other relationships outside of their marriage are desired – or even only acceptable – then of course there is no problem. This type of relationship should ideally be discussed long before vows are taken.

  Certainly, relationships can change over the years and if both partners agree to experimenting with different lifestyles later in their marriage, then there should be no problem with this either.

  Remember, if it is agreed that the man have a “byside” then it should be perfectly acceptable for the woman to enjoy her own lover. The type and depth of external relationships should be agreed between the primary partners and, needless to say, honesty and openness should extend to secondary partners too.

  If you have agreed to a traditional monogamous relationship, then whatever your urges or nature might be, stick to your vows or do the honorable thing and leave the relationship.

  To sum up, any non-monogamous relationship must be based on complete honesty and equality between partners. A non-monogamous relationship should never be confused with infidelity, cheating, straying or any form of sneaking behind one’s partner’s back.


Stuart Knaggs